A healthy diet may lower the risk of death for postmenopausal women with breast cancer, according to a German study published in the British Journal of Cancer last week.
The study, conducted by researchers at the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg, included 2,522 postmenopausal breast cancer patients diagnosed between 2001 and 2005. The researchers verified their vital status, cause of death and any recurrences through to the end of 2009.
The study identified two dietary patterns. The first one, called 'healthy', included high amounts of vegetables, fruits, vegetable oil, sauces and condiments and soups and bouillons, while the 'unhealthy' diet consisted of high amounts of red meat, processed meat and deep-frying fat.
According to the research, for women diagnosed with state 1-IIIa breast cancer on a 'healthy' diet the likelihood of death from all causes declined by 26% and the likelihood of recurrence of the disease fell by 29%.
A high intake of the 'unhealthy' diet was found to lead to an increase in the risk of death from non-breast cancer causes. However, no link was found between the 'unhealthy' eating pattern and breast-cancer specific death and the risk of disease recurrence.
The study concluded that a higher consumption of the 'unhealthy' diet before a woman was diagnosed with breast cancer may result in the greater risk of death from non-breast cancer causes, while the risk of overall mortality and breast cancer recurrence may be reduced through a higher intake of the 'healthy' diet.